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ONE SUMMER IN ARCADIA
The Roman North Cotswolds, AD 370
In the dying years of Roman Britain’s golden age, a Great Villa stands in a sheltered coomb near a vineyard on the western edge of the hills.
Canio now owns this villa estate, bought with illicitly acquired gold. And with the villa came his mistress, the beautiful and enigmatic Trifosa.
Antoninus has just inherited magnificent Villa Censorini, where he and Trifosa once lived when they were children (and then lovers?). Now returned after seven traumatic years in the army, he is about to host a splendid homecoming party. Canio and Trifosa are both invited.
And then, riding slowly up the coomb out of the golden light of the setting sun, comes the government agent Macrinius Lunaris – and walking unseen beside him is the daemon Thanatos, whom the Greeks knew as the bringer of death...
THE SOWER OF THE SEEDS OF DREAMS
Roman Britain AD 368
In the aftermath of the devastating barbarian invasions which came to be known as the Barbarica Conspiratio there are:
A soldier searching for a fortune in looted gold which a dying man had told him lies hidden beneath the waters of a lake on the far side of the Great Marshes, many miles to the south of the Cotswold Hills where the story begins.
A young priestess searching for a man who had mysteriously disappeared a year before, hoping that by finding him she will restore her faith in the goddess she thought was protecting him.
A small brass figurine of the sinister underworld goddess Hecate.
And linking all three is a story said to have begun with a girl picking flowers in a meadow in Sicily on a summer’s day long, long ago when the Ancient World was young.
THE MOON ON THE HILLS
Corinium (Cirencester) AD 367
One night in late spring, a soldier, Saturninus, has a strange dream. In it he sees himself killed by a man called Caelofernus, beneath the full moon which is then only four days away. But in that same dream he also glimpses his dead lover, Pascentia, emerging alive from the sea in which she was believed to have drowned in a shipwreck three years before.
So he rides through a May countryside of great sheep pastures and hawthorn bushes smothered in creamy white blossom, intent on finding Caelofernus before the full moon rises - and all the while wondering if, somewhere on the roads, trackways and trackless wastes over which he journeys, he might meet Pascentia.
Because, in an age when belief in the gods and goddesses of the old, pagan religions is still strong, he has come to suspect that nothing is certain, not even the past - or those dreams which come out of the past.
Roman Britain: Late Autumn AD 370
One day in October, CARISTANIUS SABINUS, governor of Britannia Prima, summons CANIO to his villa and informs him that he has been ordered to find a certain ancient figurine of the Underworld goddess Hecate. An object which, he has reason to believe, is in Canio's possession.
Canio denies that he has it - which is true. Or that he ever had it - which is less true. But Sabinus doesn't believe him anyway, and Canio is vulnerable to blackmail.
And so, accompanied by a strange woman called BODICCA and a motherless boy calling himself MAXIMUS, he journeys through the towns and countryside of a Late Roman Britain slowly descending into winter, seeking a replica figurine good enough to fool Sabinus.
It may not end well.